BoSacks: The Profit Prophet: Planned Serendipity
As we proceed into the future of information distribution, several new factors have emerged that we should consider and about which we should perhaps be worried. I am fascinated by the new concept of writing an algorithm to create serendipity. I fully understand that editors have been doing it for hundreds of years, except they don't use a mathematical formula; they just "know" what their readers are interested in.
In 1998, in my e-newsletter, and then again just five years ago in this magazine, I predicted the development of a software algorithm I called a personal concierge—a program that would be your electronic best friend and butler, performing many tasks. We are very close to that happening now.
I wrote the following in 1998:
"We need a computerized, personalized agent that I have spoken of several times. … An 'agent' or 'concierge' of cyberspace. An 'agent' that fits where our wristwatches fit now. A total voice-recognition system, answerable only to us. A program that will know all that is knowable about us. An 'electronic friend' that will send birthday cards and meaningful presents to friends and family. It will pay all the bills, and make … appointments with coworkers and doctors. An agent so integrated into the cyber paths that my agent will call your agent to confirm or deny our availability to meet without our intervention. An agent that knows so much about us that it knows not only what we want to read, but also what we didn't know we wanted to read. That is to me the key to growth. … This 'thing'—or something very like it—will happen. In fact, I think it will happen in our lifetime."
Well, it seems that Google agrees with me and is in the process of creating just such an electronic editorial director.